Columbia, SC - 2018-01-16
Ultimately, what triggered the bipolar disorder for me was a 7-cm tumor in my ovary that was removed in February 2015. We learned afterward that the hormonal imbalance triggered a chemical imbalance in my brain. It was probably already there, and it just needed that little push.
In July, we went to Germany to visit my husband’s family. I had a hard time in Germany because sometimes when you travel over many time zones it can really throw you into different sides of poles. When I came back to the states I was completely off. I was not myself.
Things kept getting worse. We actually thought that I had a sex addiction, and I had stopped eating. I would not be able to pull myself out of bed for two, three days at a time, cried constantly and had constant panic attacks. Then when I could get myself out of bed, I would need to be cleaning or dancing or having sex or masturbating or anything. I could not expel enough energy. I could not keep focused on one project. Then I would swing back down to where I couldn’t get out of bed again.
Over the course of about a month, I lost 35 pounds, and I got to a point where I would sleep approximately 40 minutes a day. Drinking was my favorite thing, and I was very reckless with how I drove and acted. Finally, the sex thing is really what triggered it with my husband and I because it was affecting our marriage so much.
He found out about the [infidelities]. he didn’t understand why and I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t feel anything when this occurs. This is no different than having a cup of coffee for me.”
It took, my husband saying, “I don’t know why you don’t love me anymore, but if this is how our life’s going to be we can’t be together.” He told me that the day before I left for Las Vegas for a conference. During those five days in Vegas, I slept for one hour and ate one meal.
One of the best things that ever happened to me was that I got very sick once I got off the airplane in Atlanta coming back from Vegas. I think my immune system just gave up because I was so malnourished and stressed. I had to park my car in Commerce, Georgia, and he came to get me.
We went to an urgent care facility. I had a double ear infection, bronchitis, and a sinus infection. I got in to see my therapist right away. Of course, I was hysterical when I saw her and she said, “Would you be able to do outpatient at Carolina Center for Behavioral Health?”
I said, “Yes,” that I would go. My first day at CCBH was October 5, 2015, and I was scared to death. I cried when the nurse told me that they would make me eat lunch. I had been surviving on coffee and a bottle of wine a day, sometimes two bottles of wine, just depending on if I was depressed or manic.
I had my time with the psychiatrist that first day. He asked me what was wrong. I told him, and he looked through my file, and he was like, “There’s no doubt in my mind that you have bipolar disorder and you’re anorexic.”
I didn’t even tell my mother about the fact I was going through it until later . . . there was a terrible connotation with bipolar disorder amongst my family, partially because of my brother. There were times where he treated my family poorly. He also had developed a very heavy narcotic addiction. So, it was hard for me to think that I was in the same category as him. I was like, “I own a business, and I’m married, this is not the same thing.”
Today I am fortunate that I have my husband. He is very quick to notice if I am hitting a low or an up or something. I can also be very open with him and tell him, “I’m really low right now. I’m not doing well.”
I’m also really fortunate that my closest friends have helped me so much to a point where they kind of recognize if I’m going into mania.
Not too long ago, I was very stressed. We had two weddings and a party that week. One of my best girlfriends and I were talking about something regarding it, and she’s like, “You’re about to be manic. If you had not realized it, I’m telling you that this is what’s happening.”
BW: So, you’re really depending on people who love you to tell you when things aren’t quite right. I think a lot of people aren’t that fortunate.
Samantha: I am very fortunate.